Alton Teachers Schedule Emergency Community Meeting For April 7
The April 4 meeting of the Alton School Board ended less than 5 minutes after it started, leaving residents, parents and teachers shocked and angry. This was the first scheduled Board meeting after the March elections which resulted in the addition of Michael Ball and Peter Leavitt to the Board.
Alton School Board policy BDA states “the Board shall organize annually at its first meeting following the District elections… This meeting shall be called to order by the Superintendent, who shall preside during and until the election of a Chairperson.” Alton superintendent Maureen Ward heard motions nominating current chair Stephen Miller and newcomer Leavitt. Following a 2-2 vote, Ward declared she was “uncomfortable presiding over the meeting,” recessed the meeting without scheduling a new meeting, and left the building.
Residents and teachers were stunned by her actions.
“This is a slap in the face to every resident, parent and student in Alton,” said Richard Brown, president of the Alton Teachers’ Association. “The school board is a publicly-elected body with official responsibilities, not a private club. Their actions and decisions are required by law to be carried out in public. It was clear to all at that meeting that this was choreographed by the three of them: Miller, Ward, and Sandy Wyatt. These actions have paralyzed the District. Essentially, Alton has no viable School Board,” Brown observed. “No one knows when the next meeting is, and there is no one in charge. Obviously, there is no clear direction at this point.”
ATA Vice-President Scott Bickford further remarked that “…based on presumed Board policy, we are left to wonder if Maureen Ward is both the Superintendent and Chair of the School Board at this time! No one should have that much power.“
Teachers and parents attended the meeting in hopes of discussing the recently-released Alton Teachers’ Association’ culture-and-climate survey results with the Board. The survey paints a devastatingly bleak picture of the current work environment in Alton: little or no confidence in the current Superintendent and school administration, and very low teacher morale.
“People sometimes forget that our working conditions are also the students’ learning conditions. The heavy-handed management of the District has directly led us to this new, low point,” Bickford stated.
“Lack of communication, lack of transparency, bad-faith negotiations, the dismissal of well-respected and highly-qualified staff members – and the creation of a clearly negative work environment – all land on Moe Ward’s desk,” Brown noted. “Parents have every right to be angry.”
The Alton Teachers’ Association is hosting an emergency community meeting to address the conduct of some of the school board at Monday April 4th’s meeting and the issues which some on the school board continue to ignore. The meeting will be in the Prospect Mountain High School auditorium on Thursday April 7th at 6:00 p.m. Community members, parents and educators are urged to attend.